Jen Parkhill
4 min readJan 8, 2021

We regret what we said but maybe more what we didn’t. So I write. I write like I’m losing fingers and may never have the chance again. Because I am. Losing fingers. Toes. What parts does she not own.

I was shopping for a new mattress. I read all these reviews on the ones that come in a box and puff up when the air hits them. There was this one with a zipper. Don’t open the zipper, they said. They don’t tell you there’s fiberglass inside. It explodes into the air and gets in all your things, your hair, your clothes, your lungs. And I thought. Love. It’s like that. You take a lover to bed and one day you’ve opened that zipper and those tiny shards are everywhere. Memory. Can’t be put back. Not even time can cleanse it. You feel them in your lungs when you take a deep breath after exercise, a fuck. Long after the love bed is gone and way back you regret having ignored the tag that said don’t unzip but you’re curious and fuck it, there’s a zipper on the damn thing. What for if not to open.

She’s in all the corners of my things. My tear ducts. Old sweaters holding that image of her standing in our hall. Little pangs of remember all over the damn place. And our mattress is long gone. Left on a Brooklyn stoop for someone else to unzip their life on.

And what now. What does one do now that the unzipping has been done and the mattress can’t go back in the box and the radio keeps playing that song. Make a sandwich. Yeah. Go to the store. Pick up cat litter. There you are in the greeting card aisle. Little finger lingering. Hovering long around a card that says best hubby ever because you have a copy of it somewhere. A relic. And you turn around to laugh and the stranger walks away. You put the pancake mix in the cart. Write a word or two down. You’ll write your way out. One by one maybe you can write your way out. One word at a time. Out of the store. Out of that old play you watch every night. Your life.

Take the box to the goodwill. Hide the letters and the cards from yourself. Back of the closet. Safer to keep them for reference than to let the mind create letters that didn’t exist. Proof. Sidestep inventing sentences never said. For reference. Yes. That’s it. For reference. Tie the box with string. Incase of emergency. Feed the cat. Fold the pillow between. Tuck the corners of the sheets the way. No. Something new. Is there anything new. Or were you always this way. How much of yourself to cut off. Are there pieces she isn’t stuck to. One can’t just keep hacking willy nilly. Surely there’s a surgeon who-

Have you ever been homesick for a place. A place you have no claim on. Lease is ancient and irrelevant kind of thing. Wave to the new tenants. What did they do with those curtains we bought. I stopped cooking vegetables a while. Couldn’t. My hands on her waist at the stove top. Little shards. Couldn’t. Opening cupboards for a meal I could taste. But food just isn’t food anymore in the states. And every crumby croissant my mother, bless her, brought home, said better in Paris. In that rain. When love was here. She. Take the plate with the burger made on it. This tastes like something she’d never eat. I don’t even believe in eating animals. But eating. It keeps us alive I’m told. So.

If she’d known what I wrote down on that flight before nodding off, before touching California, could she have gone. A hammer. My head. But I’d kept it in. That’s the rub isn’t it. We regret what we said but maybe more what we didn’t. So I write. I write like I’m losing fingers and may never have the chance again. Because I am. Losing fingers. Toes. What parts does she not own. To be loved from head to toe is. Gone. Just me. And plumes of that fiberglass ripping through air. And I want to be finished. And this line is long. Waiting. I should have brought a book. I’ll write my life with my thumbs here on a phone while I wait. Put it somewhere I can say goodbye. A letter. For me myself and I. Is that what writing is. A letter to our future self. Does anyone read this stuff. Does future us. We’ll see.